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Rum

Rum is such an evocative spirit. It transforms, transcends and instantly transports the drinker to the sun-washed shores of the West Indies; white sands, palm trees and blue seas. It always has a sense of joviality, in part thanks to its Caribbean origins, and also because of the unabashed decadence surrounding a libation made from sugar.

The kind of sugar used is one of the key differentiating factors in rum production. In the Spanish and British Antilles, for example, rum is traditionally distilled from molasses - a by-product of sugar production.

In the French Caribbean islands, however, sugarcane juice (sometimes called sugarcane honey) is used instead of molasses. Countries like Martinique and Guadeloupe are famed for producing spirit distilled from sugarcane juice, known as rhum agricole - French for 'agricultural rum'. The spirit is often made in a way that more closely resembles the distillation of some of the famous French brandies, such as Cognac or Armagnac, and results in a spirit typically around 40-50% ABV, or higher in the case of overproof rum. Younger varieties often exude a tangy, herbal flavour, whilst the aged varieties (often matured in Cognac casks) will offer up subtlety and complexity, just like any fine aged spirit.

The Caribbean has been cultivated for sugar for centuries, and the various occupiers, be they Spanish, French or English, have their own terms for the spirit; Ron, Rhum and, of course, Rum, respectively.

As far as British involvement with the spirit, there has always been a strong connection with the Royal Navy. Indeed, at one time the Navy afforded their sailors a half pint of rum as part of their daily ration. The rum was traded and export grew in large part because of the export possibilities that sea travel brought about.

Many competing arguments exist as to the origins of the term "rum". The most convincing is that it is a shortened version of "rumbullion" – a word meaning great uproar and noise, and a good reminder of the often violent, dramatic history of rum. Other terms have existed, including "kill devil" which was used to describe spirit distilled from molasses.

Due to the huge geographical territory in which rum is produced, there are many variants in production, the type of still being one of the most obvious. Usually, pot stills are used to distil thick, rich, aged rums (El Dorado 15 and El Pusser's are good examples). Continuous column stills, on the other hand, are used to produce white spirits best associated with cocktails.

Maturation is an interesting aspect too. White rums are either unaged or aged only very briefly. Classics such as Bacardi Superior are crisp and tangy and work brilliantly well in cocktails. Gold rums tend to be a mix of spirit old and new, and also work nicely in cocktails, with an increase in complexity and flavour. For the connoisseurs of sipping spirit, however, dark rums are the preference. These can be tremendously refined and delicious, thanks in no small part to the tropical nature of the climate. The hot weather allows Caribbean rums to mature particularly rapidly - at as much as thrice the rate of Scotch Whisky . In this respect a 15 year old rum is the equivalent of a 45 year old whisky!

Other geographical factors come into play too, and some of the top rum-producing countries have attained their own unique style.

Jamaica is perhaps one of the most prolific rum nations today, with its own unique style. Prior to distillation, the molasses are typically allowed to ferment for a great length of time. This is then followed by distillation in pot stills. The result is intensity and body, often with notes of tropical fruit and banana. Appleton Estate and Wray and Nephew are superlative examples.

Barbados is another prime rum territory. One of the original islands to begin rum distillation, Barbadian rums are often superbly balanced, with deliciously aromatic tendencies. There are three main distilleries on the island (West Indies Rum Distillery, Mount Gay and Foursquare), and each makes use of pot stills. These are easy-drinking rums, with some of the longer-aged variants (Doorly's XO, for example) working brilliantly as sipping spirits.

Guyana is one of our favourite rum nations, thanks in no small part to the heavy, Demerara rums bottled in the El Dorado range. These are full-bodied spirits, traditionally the main constituent in British Navy rum. Made in a mix of pot stills and column stills, there is quite a variety of flavour to be found. Where once there were more than 200 distilleries, today there is only one. We suggest you seek out El Dorado 15 for an example of just how good Guyana rum can be!

Latin America is home to the lighter, fresher cocktail rums. The popularity of such spirit (with the advent of the recent cocktail revolution) has transformed the place into the most prolific region of all. It all started, however, with Bacardi, originally produced in Cuba before the country's factories were nationalised. Today, Bacardi is made in Puerto Rico, and the classic Carta Blanca remains a mainstay for many cocktails including the Daiquiri. Countries such as the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Venezuela and Trinidad play hosts to some of the world's top distilleries. Brands such as Ron Zacapa, Brugal and Pampero - among many others - are well worth a look.

Whilst not always thought of as a true rum, this introduction would not be complete without a mention of Cachaça. The famous spirit, made almost exclusively in Brazil, is traditionally enjoyed as part of a Caipirinha cocktail, and its production closely resembles Rhum Agricole. It is distilled from fermented sugar cane juice, and is bottled at between 38% and 54%ABV. One interesting aspect is the legally permissible addition of up to six grams of sugar per litre, giving the spirit additional sweetness. Varieties are sold both aged and unaged, with the former being a more premium style thanks to the extra complexity imbued by the use of wooden barrels. To sample some fine Cachaça, look for the superb distilleries Germana and Abelha. We recommend you enjoy the aged varieties neat, whilst the tangier white Cachaça is best drunk in the aforementioned Caipirinha - a cocktail made simply with two shots of Cachaça, half a lime and a couple of teaspoons of sugar. Delicious!

Recently, rum has surged in popularity. Its regard as a fine cocktail mixer is good and widespread and a number of the world's most popular drinks are rum-based - the Daiquiri and the Mojito being two prime examples. It is only recently, though, that our beloved rum has really been enjoyed en masse as a standalone beverage of true merit, and this new direction is excellent, for rum is as much a connoisseur's libation as any other dark spirit. Like all dark spirits, a stemmed tulip glass is best for optimum palate entry and for focusing the aroma.

Unconventional Distillery Time Machine Rum

70cl, 40%
Unconventional Distillery

An intriguing rum for those of you who love a gadget, Time Machine from England's Unconventional Distillery is rapidly-aged in white oak barrels. Using some fancy technology (it's top secret, that's…  More info

Unconventional Distillery Time Machine Rum
$33.84

Dos Maderas 5+3

70cl, 37.5%
Williams & Humbert

A blend of 5 year old Bajan and Guyanaese rums (aged in American oak), which is then sent over to Jerez for a further maturation in Dos Cortado Palo Cortado Sherry casks.  More info

Dos Maderas 5+3
1
$35.90

Panamá-Pacific Reserva 5

70cl, 42.9%
Panamá-Pacific

This five year old rum by Panamá-Pacific is made using freshly distilled sugar cane molasses. Aged for three years in ex bourbon casks, it is then transferred for a two year finishing period in…  More info

Panamá-Pacific Reserva 5
$41.01

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Rebellion

Rebellion Blanco is a superb white rum from Trinidad rum with a wonderfully crisp, fruity palate.  More info

Rebellion Ron Blanco Rum
$21.97

Eccentric Black Batch Rum

70cl, 40%
Eccentric Gin

From the folks at Eccentric Gin in Wales comes Black Batch Rum! Its name is a reference to the heavily charred American oak casks that it was rested in, though it's also been treated to the addition…  More info

Eccentric Black Batch Rum
$32.82

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1979

70cl, 40%
Malecon

From little-knowm rum brand Malecon comes the Seleccion Esplendida 1979. This rum was produced at an unnamed distillery in Panama from a column still, and was then aged in white oak barrels for a…  More info

Malecon Seleccion Esplendida 1979
$170.88
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El Tarasco Aged Charanda

70cl, 38%
Tarasco

Here we have an Aged Charanda from El Tarasco. Charanda is a Mexican rum made from sugarcane harvested in the mountains in Michoacan, with the higher altitude resulting in a higher sugar content.…  More info

El Tarasco Aged Charanda
1
$48.47

Don Q Selección Especial

70cl, 40%
Serralles

A rather wonderful Puerto Rican rum from Serralles' Don Q range, made with a blend of aged rums, which has resulted in an approachable yet complex and rewarding flavour profile. There's a lot to love…  More info

Don Q Selección Especial
$41.03

Panamá-Pacific Blanco 3

100cl, 40%
Panamá-Pacific

This three year old rum is distilled at San Carlos Distillery in Panama. Made from sugar cane molasses, it is aged in ex-bourbon barrels, before being filtered to remove the colour – but certainly…  More info

Panamá-Pacific Blanco 3
$41.03

Bonpland Rum Blanc

50cl, 40%
Bonpland

German indie bottlers released a pair of blended Caribbean rums finished in wine casks - this one enjoyable a finishing period in Chardonnay casks (while the other spent time in casks that held Pinot…  More info

Bonpland Rum Blanc
$39.78
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FAIR. Salvador XO

70cl, 44%
FAIR.

This XO rum from FAIR. hails from El Salvador, the smallest country in Central America! It's column distilled at the Licorera Cihuatan distillery and then aged in American oak bourbon barrels, before…  More info

FAIR. Salvador XO
$40.20

Legendario Añejo Blanco

70cl, 40%
Legendario

A white Cuban rum, that spent a short time resting in oak barrels prior to a final filtration to remove the colour. Hugely popular in Spain.  More info

Legendario Añejo Blanco
1
$25.61
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Fallen Angel Spiced Rum Miniature (50ml)

5cl, 41.3%
Fallen Angel

A 5cl miniature of Fallen Angel Spiced Rum, boasting plenty of toasty spice and mellow vanilla notes, with a smidge of chocolatey sweetness hiding in there too. Of course, the miniature also features…  More info

Fallen Angel Spiced Rum Miniature (50ml)
$8.98

Westerhall No.2 Rum

70cl, 37.5%
Westerhall

A great value-for-money white rum from the Westerhall Estate in Grenada, tying into their number-based expression style bottlings. Suitable for use in all manner of cocktails and mixed drinks.  More info

Westerhall No.2 Rum
1
$25.31

Relicario Ron Dominicano

70cl, 40%
Relicario

Superb rum from the Dominican Republic, with a very handsome bottle and wonderfully full-bodied flavour profile.  More info

Relicario Ron Dominicano
1
$37.88

Bougainville White Rum

70cl, 40%
Bougainville

From the Oxenham Craft Distillery on the island of Mauritius comes this white rum that was crafted from Mauritian molasses fermented at low temperatures for 14 to 20 days before being double…  More info

Bougainville White Rum
1
$24.59

Bacardi Añejo Cuatro

70cl, 40%
Bacardi

Bacardi is best known for its white rum, but it does do some excellent aged products. This 4 year old is a brand new addition to the line-up and sits between the Carta Oro rum, which is primarily for…  More info

Bacardi Añejo Cuatro
2
$23.37

Grand Kadoo Club 3 Year Old

70cl, 40%
Grand Kadoo

A 3 year old Caribbean rum here from the Grand Kadoo Club range. More than suitable for sipping neat or over ice, but this should also do particularly well bringing some aged rum richness to your…  More info

Grand Kadoo Club 3 Year Old
$31.32

Mauritius 9 Year Old 2010 (cask 1) - Berry Bros. & Rudd

70cl, 46%
Berry Bros. & Rudd

A richly fruity rum all the way from Mauritius, independently bottled by Berry Bros. & Rudd. It was distilled back in 2010, eventually moved over to a Port pipe for a finishing period, then bottled…  More info

Mauritius 9 Year Old 2010 (cask 1)  - Berry Bros. & Rudd
$90.32

Base Spirits Dark Rum (10L)

1000cl, 40%
Base Spirits

We love dark rum-based cocktails, and we know that's a common thing. They're very good, so it makes sense. Bars end up going through plenty of dark rum as a result of this, so it also makes sense…  More info

Base Spirits Dark Rum (10L)
$284.03

Forum Garden Rum

70cl, 41%
Portsmouth Distillery

From The Portsmouth Distillery comes Forum Garden Rum, a rather unique spirit. It takes 1968 Portsmouth White Rum and adds five of the botanicals used in Fort Gin, elderflower, gorse flower,…  More info

Forum Garden Rum
$32.82

La Factoría Ron El Dorado

70cl, 40%
La Factoría

La Factoría's El Dorado rum blends together molasses rums from Central America, South America and the Caribbean. The liquid is aged in a solera system, hence its golden colour, and we reckon would be…  More info

La Factoría Ron El Dorado
$28.25

Caliche Rum

70cl, 40%
Caliche Rum

Caliche Rum is awesome both inside and out, founded by none other than Rande Gerber and Roberto Serrallés. Produced at Destileria Serrallés in Puerto Rico, the five times distillied white rum is in…  More info

Caliche Rum
$34.86
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Jung & Wulff Rum - Barbados No.3

75cl, 43%
Jung & Wulff

This expression from the Jung & Wulff Rum selection is an excellent rum all the way from Barbados (as well as a rather snazzy label featuring cricket players!). The range explores rums from across…  More info

Jung & Wulff Rum - Barbados No.3
$47.24

Double Eagle Spiced Rum

50cl, 40%
Double Eagle

This is Double Eagle Spiced Rum, a toasty expression presented in a very handsome bottle – it's got a metal emblem on the front, with golf clubs on it (which we suppose is where it gets its name…  More info

Double Eagle Spiced Rum
$38.98

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